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Outline and Evaluate the Biological, Psychodynamic and Cognitive Explanations of Abnormality

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Outline and Evaluate the Biological, Psychodynamic and Cognitive Explanations of Abnormality The models of abnormality are theories that attempt to explain the cause of a psychological disturbance. Each model has a contrasting view which will mould further research and treatment approaches accordingly. All the models relate to the brain; however some psychologists believe that a disorder must originate from psychological causes, whilst others believe the disorder to be based on neuroanatomy and biochemicals (biological causes). Three of these main explanations are the biological, psychodynamic and cognitive approaches; each with its own treatment solutions, and strengths and limitations. The biological model is a theory most widely supported by medically trained psychiatrists. The belief is that a psychological disorder must stem from the biology of the brain; either the neuroanatomy (the anatomical organization of the nervous system) or the biochemistry (the chemical processes of the brain). In this way the disorder is treated like any other physical illness. For example, a patient presenting with severe chest pains and shortness of breath would be classified as having a cardiovascular problem, the underlying cause of the pains would be a blockage in the coronary artery preventing a sufficient oxygen supply to the heart, the treatment would be a coronary bypass, and the method of prevention for the future would be reducing cholesterol intake (along with many other methods of prevention). The biological model uses this same approach in a diagnosis; first the disorder is classified, then the underlying cause is found, next an appropriate treatment is developed, and finally methods of prevention are produced. There are considered to be four causal factors of a psychological disorder in the biological approach. These are brain damage, infection, biochemistry and genes. An abnormality may be due to just one of these factors, or a combination. Brain damage is where the structure of the brain has been permanently altered, resulting in mental deterioration. ...read more.


previously used as coping mechanisms), displacement (diverting emotions onto someone else, such as by bullying), and sublimation (diverting emotion onto something else, such as by exercising). Freud believed that everyone has some form of abnormal behaviour to a certain extent which is caused by the conflict of the Id and the Superego. Therefore it is not unusual for a person to experience anxiety, as abnormality is inevitable and beyond conscious control. In relation to this new model of abnormality treatments needed to be devised to cure those suffering from psychological illness. Freud was successful in expressing the possibility that physical symptoms could be triggered by psychological causes, and in doing so he changed the way that mentally ill people were thought of. His solution to such problems was psychoanalysis, which is often referred to as the "talking cure" due to its emphasis on discussion with a therapist to uncover unconscious conflicts and abnormalities. This allows an individual to discover, with help from their therapist, what is causing the abnormal behaviour and to understand how their psyche has been affected in the past. The patient is then able to consciously deal with the issues and resolve them, enabling them also to handle current life situations better. As it is suggested in the psychodynamic theory, repressed memories may resurface from the unconscious in the form of dreams. For this reason dream analysis is used to interpret the true meaning of a person's dreams, which represent the repressed memories or emotions. Free association may also be used, where a client will say whatever comes into their head; the theory being that uncensored thoughts will emerge that can be interpreted by the therapist. The psychodynamic theory is different from other models of abnormality as it cannot be scientifically tested. Because of this it cannot be said whether the model is valid or not. There is no way to prove that an individual has suffered conflicts between the Id and the Superego; there is only an assumption. ...read more.


This suggests that cognitive restructuring through cognitive therapy will not be successful in curing an individual's psychological problems. Overall, as with the other models discussed, the cognitive approach is both successful and unsuccessful- it will work for some clients but not for everyone. The cognitive model explains well how a person's maladaptive thoughts may lead to the development of a psychological disorder with support from research studies. However, it cannot be proved whether the thought cycles are a symptom or cause of the psychological abnormality. Cognitive treatments require a strong-willed and well-motivated client in order to work; which is often difficult as clients with psychological disorders are more likely to be vulnerable and have a low opinion of themselves. Ethically it is difficult to use cognitive therapy due to the implication of blame upon the client for their illness. Like the other approaches, the cognitive model overlooks other causal factors in developing a psychological disorder, such as environment, genetics, the unconscious and emotions. Each of these three models has shown their strengths and weaknesses. All of them are narrow-minded in their assumptions; not taking into account other factors as they are based purely on one theory. For this reason the weaknesses often out weigh the strengths. For further application in psychology a mixture of the three approaches (or using the behavioural model as well) is more ideal. This can enable a better chance for a patient's recovery and is more likely to explain the different factors that can contribute to abnormality. Often more than one treatment will be required in a successful recovery, as more than one factor has contributed to the development of the disorder. Such applications included the use of cognitive behavioural therapy (which considers both the cognitive and behavioural approach), or another example is in psychiatric units where often patients are given both drugs and cognitive therapy in order to aid their recovery (a combination of the biological approach and the cognitive approach). 1 "Genome" by Matt Ridley , Harper Perennial 2004, Ch.7 P.92 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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